Couples walking around hand-in-hand, families discussing American history, writers relaxing in the shade—these may seem like images more fitting to a public park than a cemetery. But Mount Hope is no ordinary cemetery.
Founded in 1836 at the height of the rural cemetery movement, Mount Hope Cemetery was created with aesthetics in mind. The townspeople of Bangor, Maine, frustrated by the overcrowding of small, urban cemeteries, established Mount Hope as the United States’ second garden cemetery, a title earned by the small pond, plentiful trees, and elevated plots within the cemetery.
Perhaps this charming Romantic-Era style is what drew young Stephen King, a college student at the University of Maine in nearby Orono, to often visit Mount Hope in his hours off, hatching story ideas that are now famous in popular culture. According to the tour guide, King borrowed the names of some of his best-known characters, such as Carrie and Georgie, from Mount Hope headstones. The graveyard was also featured in several scenes from the movie adaption of King’s novel Pet Sematary.
But Stephen King isn’t the only big name associated with Mount Hope. Hannibal Hamlin, the U.S. Vice President under Abraham Lincoln and a prominent Maine politician, was laid to rest here. So were gangster Al Brady, comedian Richard Golden, and actor Ralph Sipperly, as well as many prominent members of Congress, ambassadors, governors, lumber magnates, and Civil War generals. These figures can be found on the cemetery’s self-guided walking tour.
Established in the same year that Bangor was incorporated, the story of Mount Hope Cemetery is inextricably intertwined with that of the city, and it offers some serious local flair.
Know Before You Go
No dogs are allowed. Gate hours are posted on the cemetery online. Information about where to find famous graves can be found under the "History" tab on Mount Hope's website.